Refugee resettlement scheme extension welcomed

The Church of Scotland has welcomed changes to an initiative that supports refugees arriving in the UK.

David Bradwell, who co-ordinates the Kirk hosted project, ;Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees, said it is “great news” that the number of people settled under a community sponsorship scheme will soon be in addition to a new UK Government limit commitment and not count towards it.

 Sajid Javid
Home Secretary Sajid Javid chaired a round table meeting with faith group representatives at Westminster today.

He added that he and others had campaigned for changes to the community sponsorship scheme, which enables community groups to directly welcome and support refugees in the UK, for a long time.

Mr Bradwell said: “This is massive news and something we’ve been pushing for years – a real success,”

The development is part of an announcement about a new scheme starting in 2020.

Global

Speaking at the start of Refugee Week, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the UK planned to resettle around 5,000 of the world’s most vulnerable refugees in the first year of the new scheme, once the flagship Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Scheme concludes next year.

Around 16,000 people have already found safety in the UK since 2015 under the initiative, with more than 2,700 resettled in all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities.

The Home Secretary outlined the new plans, which will be based on need, at a roundtable meeting with representatives of faith groups at Westminster.

He said the new programme will be simpler to operate and provide greater consistency in the way that the UK Government resettles refugees.

The Home Secretary said it will broaden the geographical focus beyond the Middle East and North Africa.

David Bradwell
David Bradwell

Mr Bradwell attended the meeting which also considered issues connected to child refugee rights and the protection of people from persecution on the grounds of religion and belief.

The Church of Scotland has highlighted the plight of Giorgi Kakava, an 11-year-old orphan facing deportation from his home in Glasgow in eight months, despite the fact he has lived in the UK for eight years, and the Umeed Bakhsh family case;

They fled persecution in Pakistan in 2012 and came to Glasgow but the Home Office has yet to make a decision on their fate.

Father, Maqsood Umeed Bakhsh, was subjected to death threats from Islamic extremists due to his Christian faith so decided to flee with his wife Parveen and teenage sons, Somer and Areeb.

Giorgi Kakava
Giorgi Kakava beside a memorial tree dedicated to his mother Sopio in the grounds of Springburn Parish Church.

Mr Bradwell said: “Support for refugees coming through the resettlement route must never be at the expense of how society protects people in the asylum system.

“Everyone has a right to dignity and support, and this should not be dependent on how they arrived in the UK.”

Persecution

Mr Bradwell said the Bishop of Durham proposed a scheme of asylum accompaniment, where volunteers would meet asylum seekers soon after their arrival in the country and support them throughout the process of application and afterwards.

Other issues discussed included faith based persecution, the right to work for asylum seekers, child refugees and the ‘Dubs’ Amendment to bring unaccompanied children from France, Italy and Greece.

The Home Office said the global humanitarian need continues to grow with over 68.5 million people around the world forced from their homes and nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

Churches across Scotland are asked to remember Refugee Sunday on June 23 and resources are available from the Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees website